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US envoy lashes out at China in rare move, says Beijing not a ‘confident government’

U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns told The Wall Street Journal that China has actively undermined ties with the United States by harassing and questioning its citizens who attend U.S.-sponsored events in China.

Burns said China was open to strengthening ties with the U.S. after Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in November. But Burns said that understanding has since fallen apart.

“They say they’re in favor of reuniting the populations of our two countries, but they’re taking dramatic steps to make that impossible,” Burns told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.

Burns said the Chinese government is actively trying to undermine America’s standing in the country and undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts there.

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Ambassador Nicholas Burns told The Wall Street Journal that China has actively undermined U.S.-China relations by harassing and questioning its citizens attending U.S.-hosted events in China. (Szilard Kościsak/MTI via The Associated Press)

Burns said China’s restrictive policies include new efforts to block Chinese students from attending U.S. universities, with exchange programs proving increasingly difficult in recent months.

“What China is communicating to us and to the world is that they want people to interact, but this isn’t just a one-off thing. This is routine. It happens at almost every public event,” Burns explained. “This is a serious violation and we hope that China will reconsider,” he added, using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China.

Biden speaks with Xi Jinping

Ambassador Nicholas Burns said China’s restrictive policies include new efforts to block Chinese students from attending U.S. universities, with exchange programs proving increasingly difficult in recent months. (Li Xueren/Xinhua via Getty Images)

The Chinese government has also become increasingly bold in its efforts to disrupt U.S. diplomats. A notable example is the government’s decision to cancel a U.S.-sponsored concert under suspicious circumstances. The government announced that the venue would have no electricity on the night of the event. However, despite this, events were scheduled at the venue both the night before and the night after the U.S. event.

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“This is not a sign of confidence in the government,” Burns told the Journal.

Biden, Xi Jinping

The Chinese government has become increasingly bold in its efforts to obstruct American diplomats, the U.S. ambassador said. (Brendan Smiarowski/AFP via Getty Images)

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Burns added that China has not fully cooperated with the investigation into the stabbing of four American university professors in China earlier this month.

“I don’t believe we have enough information about the perpetrator’s motive,” Burns told The Wall Street Journal. “For more than two years now, I’ve been concerned by a very aggressive effort by the Chinese government to disparage America and to spread a misleading narrative about American society, American history and American policy. This is happening every day on every network available to the government here, and it’s fueling anti-American sentiment online.”

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